Friday Happy Hour: The French 75

For those of you planning to ring in 2012 at home, we thought we’d fill you in on a fun and sparkly cocktail to add to your drink menu.  This bubbly cocktail is both delicious and really easy.  So here’s a joyful way to toast the New Year with champagne, just a little gussied up: the French 75.

Read below for the full recipe!

The French 75

1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
Champagne or Sparkling Wine

Combine the Gin, St. Germain, lemon juice and syrup, shake with ice, and pour into a chilled cocktail glass or champagne coupe.  Top with the champagne – pour it slowly over the back of a spoon to get a great layered effect.


The French 75 has a really interesting history: it was invented in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris, apparently at the behest of soldiers on leave from the Western Front who wanted to add some kick to their traditional champagne toasts.  It takes its name from the Canon de 75 modèle 1897, or the French 75, a 75 mm field gun the French used to great effect during the First World War.  (U.S. forces used them too, and then-Captain Harry S. Truman commanded a battery of them during the war.)  Someone likened the kick of drinking one of these to being on the receiving end of the French 75, which I can believe after trying one of them.

The French 75 is a lot of things: fresh and bright, crisp and citrusy, sweet and sour with layers of flavor that get more complex as the drink sits (if you let it).  The botanicals of the gin and floweriness of the St. Germain complement rather than mask the champagne.  Just be careful: it really does pack a punch, which you probably won’t feel until after you’ve finished one.


The first French 75 did not include the St. Germain, but I find that the elderflower liqueur really pairs well with the gin in this and many other drinks.  The oldest recipes called for gin, but after Prohibition someone got the idea to replace the gin with Cognac to make it even more French.  I suppose that could work too, but I haven’t tried it (yet).  Enjoy!

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

  1. I Love that you posted this drink!
    Several years ago my cousins gave my history buff of an uncle this book on the history of individual mixed drinks for Christmas. We were immediately intrigued by the French 75 and its unmistakable ‘kick’ like a fire arm that it became the drink of the meal. Since then, every time we get together for the holidays, ‘there is a drink of the moment’. Thanks for bringing back the memories of French 75.

  2. This looks yummy! I read it aloud to my husband and we both agree that we need to attempt this tomorrow. So thanks!

  3. You have a beautiful blog. I found it because the st. germain people are reposting it on fb. having said that, and trying to remain as diplomatic as possible, this is a beautiful champagne cocktail with st. germain; however, it is not a french 75. The recipe for the 75 doesn’t include st. germain, but rather curacao, most usually cointreau. To take nothing away from this drink which looks lovely, and I’m certain tastes lovely also.

    • correction, no cointreau either. gin, lemon, sugar, champagne. (its early on the west coast and the seelbach hangover is still to fresh from nye)

  4. Hi everyone – I’m really grateful for all the positive feedback we’ve received on these posts and am really glad so many people are enjoying them. It’s great fun to share my new hobby (along with Nole’s fabulous styling and photography) as I learn my way through the world of classic drinks, so thanks to everyone for reading and commenting!

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